If Memorial Day is the unofficial kick-off to summer, then 4th of July is the confirmation that summer is in full swing. With the opportunity for family and friends to gather for beach parties, cookouts and other fun outings, the 4th of July, and the summer days after it, can be among your best of the year.
To ensure that your holiday is as safe, and therefore as enjoyable as possible, here are some of the most common issues we treat each summer. A few preventative steps can keep you and your loved ones away from the ER:
- Water Safety – Boating, swimming and general water play are integral parts of a hopefully warm and sunny holiday. However, water can pose a considerable threat particularly among children who are not yet strong swimmers. The best antidote to avoiding a 9-1-1 call and a potential drowning is constant vigilance. If a child is submerged, do not hesitate to perform potentially life-saving CPR and to contact 9-1-1.
- Backyard BBQ Beware – A great backyard BBQ with family and friends is a much anticipated part of the holiday. Beware of the grill however, particularly of burns both to the chef and passerby’s. Also, practice proper lifting when moving a grill by bending your knees, to avoid a back injury.
- Beach Burnout – Many of us love the hot days of summer. However, painful burns from too much sun exposure and dehydration are common issues among many particularly the very young and the elderly. Keep an eye on the people in your care to be sure they are properly covered and also protected with sunscreen and are drinking plenty of clear liquids, preferably water.
- Fireworks – A 4th of July safety list would not be complete without a mention of fireworks. Leave the fireworks to the experts and don’t use them at home. They pose a risk not only to you, but to those watching with you. Risks can range from burns to hearing damage, to limb damage and death.
- General Warm Weather Trauma – It is critical to note that the most significant health hazards over the summer are from common, day-to-day activities and include concussions, broken bones and cuts, often from falls from play structures, bikes, skateboards and scooters. The best prevention is to wear well-fitting appropriate protective gear such as a helmet while biking, as well as elbow, wrist and knee guards while skateboarding and riding scooters.
- Gardening – Many adults can over-extend themselves with normally pleasurable activities such as gardening. Spending a day on your knees, pulling weeds, digging, pushing a heavy wheelbarrow can stress your back, knees and hips as well as strain muscles and joints. The more hours you put in, the more likely you are to hurt yourself due to the fatigue factor. Be aware of how much work you are doing, take frequent rests and do not over-extend. A late night emergency room trip because of back pain is not how you want to spend a warm weekend.
In addition, the summer doesn’t stop typical emergency room visits which include chest pain, headaches and back pain. If you have preexisting conditions, make sure you take these into consideration when participating in holiday activities.
Summer should be about having fun and the best way to ensure that is to maximize safety for yourself and your entire family. A small bit of safety and prevention can ensure that your days are spent enjoying the warm weather and not recuperating from a traumatic event.
This article was written by Dr. Mark Pearlmutter, Chief of Emergency Services at St. Elizabeth’s
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